On Thursday, Novak Djokovic defeated Hubert Hurkacz7-6 ( 7/1 ), 4-6, 6-1, making history as the first Italian to ever make it to the last four of the ATP Finals.
Hurkacz, who replaced injured Stefanos Tsitsipas in his lone match of the season-ending tournament and claimed a set against Djokovic, guarantees World Number Four Sinner at least second place in the Green Group.
The outcome of Sinner’s final match with Holger Rune later on Thursday will determine whether the Serbian world number one qualifies, despite having won two matches in a row.
It’s challenging, but I’ve decided to do it. The rest is out of my hands, so I’m glad I won the group’s final game, Djokovic told Sky Sports.
I did a good job of finishing the game; let’s see what happens next.
Sinner might purposefully lose to Rune and knock Djokovic out while still playing, preventing the 24-time Grand Slam champion from winning a record-breaking seventh Finals.
Hurkacz, however, dismissed that idea, claiming that his friend would exert every effort to prevail.
Hurkacz told reporters,” I believe you’re here to win games, so he’s going to try to do that.”
He earned his qualification by triumphing in his opening contests. He is unquestionably a wonderful man. Yes, he has been playing tennis like crazy.
The 36-year-old who won three Grand Slams and increased his 1000 Masters crowns to 40, another record, would have an age-defying 2023 when he was knocked out early.
However, Sinner would take first place in the group if he defeated fellow young gun Rune, which would likely result in Daniil Medvedev being eliminated from the Red Group semifinals.
After only playing three games in his match with Tsitsipas on Tuesday before the Greek withdrew from the competition injured, Djokovic now has to hope Sinner defeats Rune, who is more rested than the Italian.
When he scored nine straight points to take a 6–0 lead in the tie-break and then seal the set at the end of the first set, the player took control.
In game five of the second set, however, he lost his serve to love, and two games later, Hurkacz rammed home four straight aces from 15 to 40 down to bring the score to within one game of drawing.
With the third set almost irrelevant, Hurkacz collapsed in front of a visibly irritated Djokovic after easily spotting the set and receiving warm applause from the home crowd.